Apr 30, 2009

Golconda Fort

The pictures are in the order of a guide's tour...

This is the entrance to the garrison.

That's Praveen trying to lift the metallic block. According to our guide this block was used to test strength... army recruits had to lift this block off the ground to pass the test. Praveen could not budge it. It managed to shift it little bit. But three local boys all aged around 12 years, jointly lifted it one inch from the ground. Amazing!

Estimated weight of the block: 250kg.

These are the step leading the way to the prison

...and those are images of Gods carved by a royal prisoner on one of the prison walls. When the prison door is shut, the only source of light and air is from a foot square hole high up in the ceiling.

Now we are at the summit of the rocky hillock and below that rock are two small temples.

That's the summer palace and the highest point in Golconda Fort.

Below picture, to the right, are the palace ruins. The walls and floors still have water pipelines. It seems water was pumped to the palace from another hillock about 2km from here. Of course, those days there were no motors... gravitational force was used to it's best.

Looking back at the summer palace on the way down. We took the other stairs which is much steeper than the one we climbed up.

The climb looks daunting. Our guide told us that some guides would bring tourists to this stairs and the tourists looking up would refuse to go up. The guide saves times for more tourists!

That's a fountain head in the palace courtyard.

I've visited this place two times; first with dad and then with Praveen sometime 2003. Both times, to my bad luck I could not see the museum close by.


Apr 26, 2009

Bus game

1977, St. Charles Convent, Badhravathi

One day, lunch break, a class-mate and me finished lunch quickly and were walking around the play-ground. On a grassy patch patch of the play-ground, we saw some of our seniors playing bus... juniors like us were made to sit on ground in rows, like passengers seated in a bus. One of the seniors was a driver, another one was a conductor and few more were passengers. I think the conductor had a whistle in his mouth. We were watching and one the seniors asked us to board the bus... we were standing in a bus stop.

The driver made engine noise and the conductor would go about collecting fare and issue tickets. Whenever the bus turned the driver would bend in the opposite direction and all the passengers had to do the same... we would bend to our left when the bus turned right and vice versa. The bus would also brake suddenly and all of us had to bend forward. The bus would stop at bus stops and zoom away and screech to a halt... our bus driver was a maniac on the road!


Apr 22, 2009

Near fatal accident

2004, Amona Bunder, Goa.

It's a high traffic jetty with each weigh bridge weighing close to 1000 trucks per day during peak season. The salt in the moisture laden air corrodes steel real fast. The manganese dust accelerates the corrosion process. Steel structures need lot of maintenance work. Shabir and I with Shashi's gang of welders and fabricators were working on weigh bridge maintenance. The gang - Shashi the leader, Gopala the next-in-line, Bhaktha the expert welder, Nataraja the all-rounder and... I cannot recall few names.

For the day, we had work on two weigh bridges, about 40 meters away. Done with one, we wanted to move the portable generator to the other weigh bridge. The dirt path slopes down and then slopes up. The generator is heavy duty type weighing close to 1500kg, mounted on four heavy duty tires, like the grooved tires tractors have on the front wheels. Bhakta took the steering-end and the rest of us were at the other end. We thought we should pick up speed going down slope to build up momentum so that we need not struggle going up the slope. As we picked speed, Bhakta was in high spirits and running backwards with the steering cum tow lever in his hands. None of noticed the tarpaulin sheet until Bhakta tripped, falling backwards. The genset mowed him down. The immediate thought that came to my mind was that we are going to be in deep trouble.

But what happened was... as the genset mowed him down sending him between the front wheels, under the front axle. I heard his scream.... aaayyyooo ayyayyo ayyyyayyo!!! Within no time the rear axle passed over him and he was stuck with. The remaining of us pulled it back to slow it down and it stopped. Bhakta was still screaming. I could see the mixed feeling of surprise, fear and happiness in his eyes... to see himself alive. He was still under the genset and all of us looking at him in shock. He crawled out pretty fast... as though the genset might start moving again. He was injured on the forehead, one of the shoulders, arms, knees and back but he was moving by himself and talking... that was a big relief.

Few other workers had gathered around us. Before anybody could kick up trouble, I asked Bhakta to get into the Bolero with two more guys and took him out of the factory premises. I picked up few bottles of mineral water, Dettol, cotton rolls and plaster. We drove away towards the hills and stopped at a lonely spot. Asked him to take off his t-shirt and checked him for injuries. The forehead and knee were the bad ones. We cleaned him with water. Then cleaned his wounds with mineral water and Dettol and covered them with cotton and plaster. First Aid done. We took him to a doctor who checked the wounds, gave a anti-tetanus shot and prescribed some pain-killers. He appreciated my first aid skill.

Bhakta was on rest for a week. I banned him from coming to work place too. Next day we took him to a mines specialist doctor who certified he was out of any danger and prescribed some antibiotics to prevent infection to the wounds.

The moment Bhakta tripped, I thought one of the wheels would run him over. It's just plain luck he went exactly in the middle. Later I was studying the tires and trying to imagine what they could do to a 40kg man. If it ran over the stomach, the man could be cut into two. Let me not imagine anything more.

The mistake we did was taking the genset in forward. We should have taken in the reverse direction. That way nobody would be in the way of the genset. I believed and practiced safe work methods but that day I was not alert. I understood the importance of being alert at all times. Every second counts.


Apr 18, 2009

Trip to Kerala during Dasara vacations

During this trip we spent more time traveling then sight-seeing. Anyway, day-journeys through Kerala are as good as sight-seeing on the move. Everything in sight is great to look at... curvy roads through hills, tiled houses, cashew trees, paddy fields, streams, the landscape is just green.

One evening October 1994, our journey from Bangalore. I think the private travels took us till Kannur from where we caught a bus to Thekkadi. The journey dragged on and on... after passing Munnar, we sang noisily for sometime and we could see that some of the local passengers were annoyed at our singing. As we neared Thekkadi, it was raining. Another 2 kilometers to go our driver trying to overtake another bus in those narrow jungle roads, runs off road and our bus is stuck. It was stuck fast, our efforts to push it out went waste. We walked up to the lodge in the rain. Exhausted, I just had dinner and hit the sack.

Next morning, we went for a boat ride in the Thekkadi Lake. The place was swarming with holiday makers like us. Most people come with hopes of seeing tigers, elephants and other wild life. We were not so lucky... a herd of elephants on the lake bank, a wild boar and I think few deers, that's it. Of course we saw ducks and some lonely water birds.

Our next destination was Kanyakumari. Thekkady to Chenganacherri by bus. Chenganacherri to KanyaKumari by train. I think we reached KK late, checked into a cheap lodge and crashed into the bed. Early morning we went to Vivekananda Rock. The place is magical. We spent about an hour on the rock, seeing the meditation hall.

Our next destination was Kovalam Beach. I think we traveled by bus to Trivandrum. Checked into a hotel close to the railway station. Srinivasamurty, the co-planner had booked train tickets and the status: Waiting List some three digit number. We spent time looking around the city and then spent an evening at Kovalam Beach. I was not impressed... black and grey fine sand. We had a good lunch... I enjoyed fish and rice.

_____, Ayesh, Jayanth, Aravind, _____, Venkatesh, Srinivasamurty and that's Rajesh sitting.

Now comes the most memorable part... I'll call it unforgettable part, of our trip. Our tickets were still in waiting list which meant we had to travel in the unreserved bogie which meant no chance of sleeping. We went to the railway station, it was crowded. Our train was no less... looked as thought everybody in the station were traveling to Bangalore. We got into the second class bogies and managed to get seats. At Cochin, the ticket collector chased us out... to the unreserved bogie. Oh man, it was jam packed! We hardly had place to put both feet on the floor. At times I stood on one foot and my arms up. I had never experienced anything like this before. We traveled standing, the entire night. Somewhere near Bangalore, I got a chance to sit the doorway for an hour or so. The nine of us took turns.


Apr 13, 2009

Koyagudem - Kothagudem

Done with the work on the weight bridge in the Koyagudem mines, Vijay and I were riding back on his bike when I noticed this hillock. Vijay told me that it's man-made, it's a huge heap of OB that's over-burden. OB is the earth moved to reach the coal buried deep inside. Most mines in this area are open-pit.

These guys had run out of petrol. Vijay gave them some petrol from his bike, the nearest bunk was 10km.

I'd never seen a temple 'gopura' like this ever before... horse, eagle, monkey, boar and lion. And look at the colors!

That's a dam which supplies water to Kothagudem Thermal Power Station near by. Vijay told me that the reservoir when full has enough water for two years supply to the power station.

The dam's guest house is situated in a woody and hilly part right next to the reservoir. The place is no longer used, ever since the place was bombed by Naxalites. You can catch a glimpse of KTPS in the top left corner of the picture below.

That was my last visit to Kothagudem. I'm not sure if Vijay is still operating the weigh bridge... it was a 120T 12m by 3m concrete deck supported on six double ended shear beam load cells supplied some time 2002.


Apr 10, 2009

Adventure Sport at Nandi Hills

Brigadier Vijaykumar, my dad’s elder brother, always wanted kids to learn practically… see and experience. He always encouraged, even now, kids and grownups too, to be active. When I was in high school, he had arranged for us- Ashiwini & Rohini, my cousins and Dipi and I- to go with a bunch of army men to Nandi Hills who were going out there for an adventure sport- hang gliding. I had seen hang gliders in an English movie and now I would be seeing it for real, a rare opportunity indeed.

We rode in one of the two Shaktiman trucks; on for people and the other one for the hang gliders. We reached the top by 10AM. We had break-fast with the team. Soon the mechanics got to work- assembling the gliders. It was fun to watch them put the parts together and we were excited and impatient to see them in action.

The take-off spot was just behind the KSTDC restaurant, a 45 degree grassy slope and then a straight fall. The pilots (I don’t know what else to call them) warmed up and took position in the glider. The glider looked like a big triangular kite. Aluminum frame supported the fabric. The entire assembly must’ve weighed around 50kgs. One of the mechanics checked wind speed and direction while the other ran a final check through the glider. Assisted by the mechanics, the pilot lifted the glider off the ground, made sure he had good grip and started taking careful steps with the mechanics moving along. Taking off could be very tricky since speed is crucial. The pilot was running faster assisted by gravity, went down towards the cliff edge and just before the edge, he lifted off the ground gracefully. The first few seconds he actually went down picking up speed and then using the momentum to climb to a higher altitude. What a scene it was! This guy looked like an expert; soon he was circling above us, enjoying the ride and the view from up there.

Meanwhile, the second pilot and glider were ready to take-off. It was smooth but this guy could not gain altitude like the first pilot. May be lack of experience. He was struggling to maintain altitude and went downwards… I cannot recall where the first pilot had landed. We could see the second pilot planning to land in an open field close to the road near a hamlet. We could see the glider fly towards a tree, it brushed, lost it’s balance and then suddenly we saw a flash of light. We could see the flash in bright sun light! The glider got tangled into overhead electrical cables! The group leader hurried us into a truck and we rushed down.

People from the hamlet had gathered and trying to help the injured pilot. His left leg was injured, the jeans bore a huge hole and we could see burnt flesh. He was in pain but alert. He was loaded into a truck and zoomed towards Bangalore...


Apr 6, 2009

Six years ago

April 6, 2003

That's Praveen, Veeren, Shabir and and Deepak.

Praveen, Deepak and I reached Hospet from Bangalore. Shabir and Veeran rode a bike from Sanquelium, Goa.

That evening, we had a small party to celebrate Deepak's birthday.


Apr 5, 2009

Ganesh's Coffee Estate at Shuntikoppa

This is my cousin's house and coffee beans processing area midst his coffee estate inside a valley formed by three hills. The place is absolutely great. Just green, green and green. I still remember how my Omni struggled to go up the steep dirt track... I could smell the clutch plates burning. Finally I tool it up in reverse.

That's my cousin Ganesh, my dad's cousin Mahendra's son. He's standing below a mango tree, the tallest one I've seen in my life.

During my visit, it was rainy season and they were spraying the plantation. A tough, labor intensive job. Unlike other plants, the the underside of the coffee leaves are sprayed.

There were hundreds of jack-fruit trees loaded with hundreds of jack-fruits. Some rotting away in the tree itself. Ganesh told us that workers here just slash through ripe ones and pick few pieces and eat them when hungry. Nobody ever bothers taking them home.

Just behind the house, next to a fresh water stream, was a large cluster of banana plants, the jungle variety a source of continuous supply of banana through out the year. Apart from this the estate provides them with almost everything they need... firewood, water, fruits, spices. It would be fun to spend few weeks down there.


Apr 1, 2009


River Cauvery before the Sangama, calm and smooth.

I shot these pictures during a visit with Satish, Shefali and Shobha. The 4km bus ride from Sangama to Mekedatu was a bumpy one. On the way back, I had walked almost half the distance when the bus caught up with me.

This is the narrowest part of the river, the speed of water is supposed to be around 80kms per hour. Probably this is where the goat jumped across the river.

This was a dry part of the year and hence less water. It's great to see when the river is full.

...the river appears to be calm again.